How to Build an Epic Women’s Dive Day

If there’s one woman that has mastered the art of planning a Women’s Dive Day event, it’s Susan Copelas, PADI Master Diver Trainer Instructor at Dive World Adventures.

Each year, her events with Celebrate Women Divers, located in Massachusetts, continue to grow with almost 200 people in attendance and seven locations, worldwide.

And from last year’s turnout, her team knows what they’re doing. Women’s Dive Day 2018 marked one of the largest gatherings in the world with $75,250 in proceeds awarded to 59 women for the Scholarship and Grant Program for the Women Divers Hall of Fame (WDHOF), a program that offers everything from basic scuba diving classes to archeology and DAN dive medic courses. Thanks to Copelas’s efforts, over the past two years, her team has contributed $12,000 to WDHOF.

For those wondering how she does it, Copelas suggests starting with two simple questions:

  1. What type of event do you want to have?
    “Hosting a Women Divers Day can be anything from an all women’s dive boat wearing matching store t-shirts to a larger event at multiple locations.”
  2. What do you want to accomplish?
    “Is it all about women empowerment, or would you like to expand it to supporting a cause?” she asks. “I chose the Women Divers Hall of Scholarship and Grant Program because it embraces women divers, it embraces their passion for the ocean on many levels, and it helps train the next generation of divers to give back and help our planet in a variety of ways.”

After that, it’s all about planning and preparing.

Copelas’s Tips:

  • Include assistants or have a committee structure, so there is a broad network.
  • Utilize all components of social media.
  • Start early and be passionate about what you are doing. It builds excitement.
  • Make it inviting for all levels of divers.
  • Keep it unique. Change it up every year.
  • Offer a variety of giveaways and raffle items.
  • Partner with a cause. Allow the event to give back and be part of something big.
  • Set short-term and long-term goals for the event.
  • Create Women Divers Day business cards with your name and a separate email to show you are organizing it for a cause and not the benefit of a dive shop.

To ensure a good turnout, Copelas stresses the importance of social media.

“The biggest challenge for me was my self-confidence that after all the committee’s hard work no one would show up,” she says. “Then, the filled buses started arriving from dive communities farther away, and I knew that the unknowns of social media component worked.”

Building credibility among the dive community is another one of her strongest pieces of advice.

“If you get the support of local dive shops, coupled with their dive manufacturers, etc. and advertise your sponsors over and over again, then people see legitimate ‘names’ are on board, and the event takes more of a form,” she advises. “You start having people call asking why you haven’t asked them to sponsor yet.”

And that credibility continues to grow. This year’s events are even more involved with a working list of partnerships that include Reef.org; One Love One Ocean, recently featured on Chronicle; Captain Breezy Grenier part of the Exxpedition Round the World; Evelyn Dudas, the first woman to dive the Andrea Doria; and Faith Ortins from WDHOF and co-founder of Blue/Green Expeditions. They will also feature a series of raffles totaling around $8,500 that includes a Dive in the New England Aquarium Giant tank, a dive trip to Atlantis Resort in the Philippines, a trip to True Blue Resort in Grenada, a Legend LX regulator donated from Under Sea Divers; and the Soul i3 BCD donated by East Coast Divers.

With all of their successes, Copelas and her team’s primary goal is to leave an impact on the next generation of divers.

“I love this quote by Gerry Burnie: ‘We talk so much about leaving a better planet to our kids, what about leaving better kids to our planet?’” she says. “Helping contribute to an organization like Women Divers Hall of Fame Scholarship and Grant Program does just that. I just wish there were more funds available to give to all the worthy applicants and their causes.”

If more people follow Copelas business model, those funds might just come to fruition.

Interested in planning your own Women’s Dive Day event? Ask Copelas for advice at celebratewomendivers@gmail.com.

For more on plans for Women’s Dive Day 2019 with Celebrate Women Divers, check out their WomenDiversDay Facebook page.

Don’t miss out! Register your event today.

Seasoned Pros: Tips for New Instructors

kara and nate scuba diving PADI Divers

By Tara Bradley Connell

Sharing a love of diving with a new diver is one of the most rewarding experiences for a PADI Pro. And with knowledge and time, the lessons learned along the way are priceless. Here are some tips from PADI’s seasoned pros on how to create a successful and enjoyable career in diving.

Read Your Students

When Conrad Rucker, a PADI course director at Dive Georgia, learned to dive, it was with a steel 72, single-hose regulator, and a backpack. Since then, the gear requirements have gotten an upgrade, and he’s trained over 1,500 divers. For Rucker, focusing on the students and their different skill levels is his strongest piece of advice.

“Always put the students’ safety first,” he says. “Look out for the ‘weakest link’ of the group. Have fun. If you’re not enjoying it, your students probably aren’t, either.”

conrad rucker

It’s Never Too Late

Louise Kiyani, a PADI MSDT at Diveworld, located in Yorkshire, England, didn’t try diving until she was 38. In fact, she was terrified of open water areas. Thanks to her patient instructor, she found her footing.

“My very first dive was mind-blowing! All my fears vanished in an instant, and I was hooked – the poor guy couldn’t get rid of me for days after that,” she laughs.

Today, she has a dive center and has trained over 1,000 divers. For Kiyani, it’s all about taking your time.

“I overcame fear and pushed myself and have never been more surprised at my own ability and I’ve never looked back,” she said. “My advice would be don’t hesitate and choose carefully.  Teach what you love to do, stay focused and give your best. I firmly believe the rewards will come back at you tenfold.”

louise kiyani

Don’t Give Up

Made Partayasa has been diving since 1998, but it wasn’t until March 2019 that he took the next step and became a course director at Blue Corner Dive Lembongan in Bali. Today, he has trained almost 800 divers.

Partayasa says that it was the perseverance he learned from his family at Blue Corner Dive that helped him pass his Instructor Exam – even after he initially failed the physics and equipment segments.

“Cody saw ‘failure’ as a normal step, and worked tirelessly to help me succeed,” he says. “I never wanted to be an instructor because I was too afraid of my English and theory. Cody used to stay from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. to help me learn it all. I could not have done it without the support and guidance from Cody, Andrew, and the Blue Corner Dive family.  I can now pass on that same support, patience, and understanding to every candidate I have.” 

Made Partayasa

Build Your Logbook

In 1990, Simon Hotchkin tried diving on a fluke while on holiday. Today, he is a PADI Master Instructor and owns Stellare Divers, in Lincolnshire, England. For Hotchkin, and his 900-some student certifications, it’s about gaining exposure to a variety of different dive conditions.

“Get loads of diving experience in as many different places and environments as possible,” he says. “Once you have a ton of experience and are a rounded diver, then become a PADI Pro, give something back, help others see the amazing things that you have, and share your passion.”

Simon Hotchkin

Passion = Success

PADI course director Anna Schmitz always thought she’d end up teaching or working in the medical field, but the second she tried diving that all went out the window.

“I put a regulator in my mouth — and everything changed! Buy hey! I am a teacher, and I love dive medicine!”

Through her diving career, she’s trained 1,464 professionals and owns Emerald Coast Scuba. In addition to their regular diving curriculum, her team focuses on their Wounded Warrior and SEAL team programs. For Schmitz, the most important thing to remember when building a successful career in diving is to enjoy it.

Anna Schmitz

“Teach what you love — and the joy (and money) will follow!”

Dieter Steinbrich, a PADI MSDT and operation manager for Dune Atlantis Bali, based in Sanur,  agrees.

“Follow your dream and learn as much as you can,” he says.

Dieter Steinbrich

Dream Big

Restunning Sandini is not only the IDC Manager of Two Fish Divers Indonesia, but she was also the first female Indonesian PADI course director.

“Everyone has their own issues, and as Indonesian or Eastern-cultured women, we are sometimes seen as selfish if we strive to reach our dreams. The truth is, every dream needs sacrificing,” she says. “To be honest, there were times that I thought I would not be able to reach it. But again, if your dreams are not giving you bruises, then they are not big enough, right?”

Restuning Sandini

Check out these 6 Secrets Behind Dive Center Hiring when looking for a career in scuba.